Well, we’ve had our first complaint… a mere 15 days after I moved here. Is that some kind of record I wonder?

At some point between me returning from my lunch break at 12:30 and Jan getting home from work last night, somebody had stuck a copy of one page from our Hausordnung (house rules) to the door with a certain sentence highlighted. Now, I thought I had read the Hausordnung properly, but it seems my memory sucks. I thought we weren’t allowed to do noisy things (like hoover) after 8 p.m. It turns out it’s actually 9 p.m., but with a special extra clause for “handiwork” activiies/construction, which is only allowed until 6 p.m.. On Saturday, we put up some shelves, and it must have been slightly after 6 when we finished because the 6 p.m. sentence is highlighted. You can rest assured, once we finally get round to buying the remaining furniture we need I will only be putting it together at precisely 3 o’clock in the afternoon, thus avoiding both the afternoon quiet period (12 noon til 2 p.m.) and the evening limit! In the meantime, I thought it was a good opportunity to tell you all what else I’m not allowed to do in Switzerland (or at least in my building)…

Don't even think about plugging me in on a Sunday!
Don’t even think about plugging me in on a Sunday!
  • Hoover or use the dishwasher in my flat before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., or on Sundays.
  • Use the communal washing machine and tumble dryer before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. from Monday to Saturday or at all on Sundays and public holidays. Tenants who have their own washing machine can only use it during the same specified times.
  • Hang washing outdoors on a Sunday. (The others I sort of get – quiet times and all that – but this one is mystifying. Any Swiss care to enlighten me?)
  • Play musical instruments after 8 p.m. (I knew I read 8 p.m. somewhere!)
  • Put glass into the glass recycling containers on a Sunday, or after 6 p.m. on any other day.
  • Wash a car on the driveway ever. Cars are to be washed at proper carwashes only.
  • Mow the lawn on a Sunday or public holiday – and probably between 12 and 2 p.m. as well. Luckily for me I don’t have a lawn 😉

Of course, most of these rules would have applied in Germany as well, but luckily for me until now I’d always had nice neighbours of around my age who couldn’t have cared less if I chose to switch on my washing machine at 2 a.m. and who would come by and ask us nicely to keep the noise down if they felt disturbed. After 8 years of such reasonableness I suppose it was about time I encountered a passive-aggressive note writer 😉 (Definitely also a thing in Germany. In fact, maybe my neighbour isn’t even Swiss…).


47 thoughts on “Sssh!

  1. Sounds like life in Swabia – these rules seem totally normal to me by now. The hanging of laundry on a Sunday…I’ve heard that’s a big no-no, but we can’t hang our laundry out anyway because of the pollen and my husband’s allergies. I think it has to do with the Lord’s day and all that. No one should see you working on the Seventh Day, the Day of Rest, the Holy Swabian/Swiss Sunday… We are to give the appearance that we are good and God-fearing Christians.

    Since it’s midday quiet time now, I’m going to take my Bible out to the patio and read awhile…

    1. I’ve heard stories about such rules in Germany but until now had been lucky enough not to have anyone try to enforce them. Also, nobody ever told me I couldn’t hang washing out any time I chose! Not that ours was ever actually outside…

    2. I’ve heard of a similar “rule” existing in the Scottish highlands 50 years ago – apparently you couldn’t bring your washing out/in on a Sunday because that would be breaking the Sabbath, and I imagine social convention/the weather wouldn’t let you leave it hanging from Saturday to Monday…

      1. Hmm, I guess that makes some kind of sense. If I did have any washing hanging outside on a Sunday it would definitely have been there since Saturday seeing as washing is not allowed on Sundays!

  2. Hey, can you flush after 10 p.m.? In some places you can’t! Also, if you haven’t read Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known, you might want to. You would totally understand what the author is saying about neighbors. We are lucky to be in housing with only other expats, so they don’t care about all those quiet rules. Not that we’re loud or anything, but I make sure never to recycle on Sundays…

    1. There is nothing in the Hausordnung about flushing. I’ve heard it’s a problem in some buildings though 😉

      Our opposite neighbours are Indian and the ones below seem to be fromthe Serbia/Croatia area, based on their surname. We have no idea who objected to the noise though since they just stuck the rules on our door instead of coming by and saying “Hey, we know you’re new. maybe you don’t know yet that you can’t drill at this time?”.

  3. Oh wow, your neighbor sounds like an idiot. That’s weird about the laundry hanging outside. I am not sure why. Maybe it is some kind of religious thing that you cannot do any work on Sundays.

    1. Exactly! I have no objection to rules in general, but I’ve only been here 2 weeks so I don’t know them all yet! Germany has rules on quiet times too, but they’re slightly different – there I could definitely have drilled after 6 pm! If he’d (or possibly she’d) just stopped by I would have been terribly embarrassed and apologetic. Now I just feel indignant. It wasn’t THAT loud (or that long after 6).

  4. oh my goodness, too many rules!! though i would appreciate it if my next door neighbour didn’t do loud annoying things at 2am or mow her lawn at 6am on a sunday because she’s just finished work. i honestly thought some of these things – like just being considerate lol – were common sense / common decency but apparently not.

  5. I can’t imagine having rules like that, I admit, I was getting slightly irritated by the thoughts of them when reading the post. But, I guess you get used to that kind of thing!

  6. Check out this gem of a letter that we got after living in our apartment for about a month:

    Although it was right next to the front door, it was quite obviously about us. Ahhh, Germans… and Swiss too, I suppose. That one about throwing away glass is really baffling me. Are people really so sensitive to noise? What are the people doing on Sunday?!

    1. Haha, “you don’t have to TRAMP around like an ELEPHANT!”. What exactly do people expect to achieve with little notes? The highlighted Hausordnung was stuck to the actual door of our flat! I suspect they picked a time when they thought everyone would be at work. I wish I had decided to go down and get my mail just as they were sticking it on there!!

      1. Especially the part about how we shouldn’t walk on our heels. We live next door to a over 70-year-old woman who lives alone, and it was the person below her apartment that was complaining (if it’s the person we think it is — there are only 7 apartments in our building). How else is she supposed to walk?

        Do you already have an idea of who left the note for you? Although ours was nearly a year ago, but I still get dirty looks from those people that left us that note (maybe we still walk like elephants, whatever).

  7. Dang, this really sucks! After almost a year in Switzerland, we still struggle with the endless rules, but at least we live in a house with nice, laid back roommates and neighbors. Hopefully you’ll meet some nice neighbors.

    1. So far I’ve only met the people opposite who are Indian and seem quite nice. I don’t think the note was from them though – she barely speaks German so I can’t see her highlighting the Hausordnung!

  8. Dear god, that list gives me a headache. First, who can remember that? Second, if you’re a normal human being with a job and a commute, when exactly are you getting all of your chores done? In my apartment building vague “quiet hours” are supposed to begin at 9pm, but that doesn’t stop the little kid upstairs from jumping and running around – often until 10.30pm.

    1. I think most of it is common sense/being considerate. I don’t think I’m a bad neighbour, but I honestly didn’t realise 6 pm would already be too late to put up shelves! And I would never be disturbed by somebody hoovering on a Sunday. People have to do their house work and I know most of them have actual jobs to go to during the week. Shouting late at night or having musc/the TV up really loud is being a bad neighbour – washing clothes at 9 is not! Just my opinion 🙂

  9. Oh wow… I thought they were a bit more forward thinking there.
    Have they introduced themselves to you at least? Welcomed you?
    In my first flat in Frankfurt I had all of those rules – plus one put on me by my flatmate which was to not empty the dishwasher before 8am. (In the Steggz household we always emptied the dishwasher before school so we had a fresh start each day).

    1. I can empty my dishwasher when I want as long as I don’t switch it on before 8 😉 The only neighbours I’ve met are the Indian couple from next door and we’re fairly sure the note wasn’t from them. I suspect either directly above or directly below, neither of whom I’ve met. Below are also foreign though – Serbian or Croatian going by surname.

  10. How lovely and welcoming, how long will it take to work out who it was?
    Here in Germany at least once a week since I moved in the same woman has come and told (not asked) me to move my car from the courtyard (where only certain special people that aren’t me get to park) and every time she gets the same answer ‘it’s not my car, or a that of a guest of mine’. She still feels the need to tell me first though.every.blinkin.time. #itsalwaystheauslander 😉

    1. Jan suspects the people in the next set of flats (the building we live in has 3 entrances with separate numbers/mail boxes but it’s all one building). His theory is they waited til Monday to hang the note because they couldn’t get into our bit of the building til then. I thought maybe the people directly above us since they’re the only people in our set of flats who are actually Swiss. There’s really no way of knowing though.

  11. The differences between nations is fascinating. I imagine a Brit would tut furiously but say nothing.

    Reminds me of the old joke about the couple having sex on a British Rail train and everyone pretending it wasn’t happening. Afterwards, the couple relax with a couple of cigarettes and an outraged passenger says, ‘Excuse me! Can’t you see the ‘no smoking’ sign?’

  12. This is MADNESS!!!! In Canada your apartment is your apartment and you can do whatever you want. I remember being furious last year when our downstairs neighbour had asked me not to wear shoes in the house – I had heels on and I literally walked into through the door, went t osee if Luke wanted to come outside for a smoke and then walked onto the balcony for a cigarette – and then came the furious text. We get told off about our dog all the time too – apparently she barks a lot, but she doesn’t because I am home all day every day with her and have been for the last year! I think they are talking about a dog in the house next door that always barks. This stuff always makes me angry. If you don’t want to hear your neighbour then buy a detached house – it’s not like I was playing loud music until 3am or anything like that either! Just normal noises. Grrrr…felt good to get that off my chest!

    1. LOL, I feel like I brought back a traumatic memory for you!!

      I can understand quiet times, etc. and people not wanting to hear nose late at night, but 6 p.m. seems a bit excessive! Surely not even small children go to bed that early?

  13. Wait…what? This is insane! Is Sunday a holy day there? What if you spill food on a Sunday or at night?! (which is exactly when I’d manage to do it…) There’s being a respectful neighbour and then there’s…this.

    1. I think it was originally a holy day but now it’s more about giving people a chance to relax in peace and quiet. The day I moved in I had to hoover at 9 o’clock at night because my boyfriend broke a light bulb! I was quick and nobody complained about that.

    1. I remember reading that post a while ago. The Russian sounds terrifying! I suppose I should be glad I just got a passive aggressive note and not someone hammering on the door at 2 a.m.!

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